In this month’s first strike, a US drone attack targeting a suspected militant compound killed at least 10 insurgents in North Waziristan Agency early Saturday, triggering a strong condemnation from Islamabad.
Two missiles hit and destroyed the compound in the Shawal area, some 70 kilometres west of Miramshah, injuring several including women and children, officials said.
“The death toll in the US drone strike has risen to 10. The drone fired two missiles at the compound,” a security official in Peshawar said. Officials had earlier put the death toll at six.
Following the attack, the Foreign Office issued a condemnation, reiterating that such “illegal attacks are a violation of (our) sovereignty and territorial integrity, and are in contravention of the international law”.
Spokesperson Muazzam Ali Khan said: “It is our considered view that the strategic disadvantages of such attacks far outweigh their tactical advantages, and are therefore, totally counter-productive.”
The identity of those killed in the strike was yet not known and officials said they were trying to collect more information from the far-flung mountainous area.
Asked why Pakistan does not bring up the issue of drones while discussing cooperation with the US, a top official of the Foreign Office told The Express Tribune: “Yes, it’s an extremely important issue which is directly linked with our sovereignty. Despite that Pakistan is not in a position to take this matter up with the Americans as a segregate item.”
“However the desire to resolve all issues exists on both sides.”
The official added that Pakistan was preparing a comprehensive work plan which was in consultation with all the concerned ministries, keeping in view parliament’s recommendations.
“The Americans are themselves divided over drones and a great chunk of the US community and statesmen term them extrajudicial killings,” he said while asking not to be named.
(AFP with additional reporting by Sumera Khan in Islamabad)
Published in The Express Tribune, May 6th, 2012.